Sergio Rodriguez: "I like to take risks"
Sergio Rodriguez: It's been great. I've been able to know about the whole NBA atmosphere, everything that surrounds the league and I'm leaving the country feeling well about the whole thing.
What was the most difficult part?
SR: The most difficult part? All the trips. In eight days, I've been to many cities and it gets exhausting at times. You spend a lot of time in airports and you don't even get the chance to spend the night in the city where you have been working out.
You've competed against players like Rajon Rondo, Guillermo Diaz or Quincy Douby in the workouts... Have you at any time felt like, "Hey, I'm better than this guy" or the opposite?
SR: The thing with workouts is that they are very brief. There have been times when I've felt better and other times when I felt worse, but I don't think you can see all that much about your talent compared to the rest of the players in these workouts. You can get an impression, but not a very clear one because these workouts are mostly about details. You can't see a lot of things in them.
Did Rajon Rondo remember you from that tournament in L'Hospitalet (Spain) where you played against him a couple of years ago?
SR: Yes, yes. We even talked a little bit about it.
I guess you've been asked a lot about the Fran Vazquez situation and if you would do the same thing he did.
SR: Yes, the truth is they asked a lot of questions about what I would do... I still don't know if I'm going to stay in the draft. Should I stay in the draft, if I'm selected, I would go to the NBA the following year. No doubt about it.
Are you waiting for a promise from a team in particular or would it be enough for you in order to stay in the draft to feel like some team in the first round is going select you?
SR: We have to think about it. I just finished my workouts. That was the first step. Now we have a couple of free days ahead of us that we will use to think about it. And then we'll see. It's not just about getting a promise from a team or being in the first round. You have to consider the teams, and what are our feelings... Well, it's still not clear for us.
Have you heard the rumor that the Celtics may be thinking about selecting you with the No. 7 pick?
SR: Not really. Like I said, the most important thing for me was to have good workouts last week, get some rest and next week we'll see what the situation is and what decision we have to make. It's a very important decision.
During the workouts, did you feel there was one team that really, really liked you more than the others?
SR: All teams have treated me really well. I think... The thing is they are very tight-lipped. You don't know. I just did my thing, went through the workouts. I did my best... And that's it. I don't really think about any other stuff.
Because of the way you play, do you feel like the Western Conference would be a better situation for you in the NBA?
SR: The problem with the draft is you don't make the decision, so...
But if you could choose?
SR: I don't know. It depends. You never know. It's true that the teams in the Western Conference play at a faster pace... But I also like the Eastern Conference. There are a lot of teams there that I like as well. And anyway, like I said, I don't make the decision. It's on the teams.
You are often criticized for your defense. It's always said you have to improve a lot on the defensive end. Would you agree on that?
SR: Yes, but I have to improve in all aspects of the game. Most of all, my defense and physically. But it's clear that I'm not a finished product and I sure have to improve on the defensive end. But it's the same thing with other parts of my game... On the offensive end, my jump shot... Everything.
What do you think is the problem with your defense? Is it a physical thing, lack of concentration...?
SR: Everything. But I'm young and I can guarantee I will work hard to improve there. And I will improve.
SR: I've always liked Jason Williams. Maybe I like other point guards better, like Steve Nash and others. But there are a lot of things about Jason Williams that I love. I think I have some things in common, but I'm not exactly like the Jason Williams of old or the current Jason Williams, you know. I look at the things many other point guards do, but it's true that Jason Williams does a lot of things I love.
Do you think you will have to make a similar transition in the future and become a more "standard" point guard, like the ones coaches usually like?
SR: I really love playing. I like it a lot. I like to take risks. And I like to have fun playing because if I don't have fun playing, I'm not going to make things all that well. It's true that as you gain more experience, you have to show improvement in several aspects of your game. You don't have to take risks in some situations, but I think the way I am I'm always going to take risks when I play. That said, I also like to play five-on-five and more relaxed sometimes, you know.
You didn't start the season in Spain very well, but you finished the year playing great. What was the turning point?
SR: The second part of the season was way better. We all got more relaxed when we knew we were not going to qualify for the King's Cup and our only goal was to make the playoffs. Luckily, we reached that goal. We would have loved to do better in the playoffs, though.
After going through this experience in the United States flirting with the NBA, would you be upset if you finally have to return to play in Spain another year?
SR: No. I think this has been a very positive experience for me and now we have to make the decision that's best for me. If we decide (returning to Spain) is the best thing we can do, it will be OK. I wouldn't be upset about it at all.
Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com